The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved new legislation on Tuesday that allows the Department of Public Health to solicit donations for supervised drug use sites in San Francisco.
The legislation, which passed unanimously on Tuesday, lets the Mayor’s Office and the health department solicit funds from private donors to support supervised consumption sites operated by local nonprofits. Doing so requires bypassing the city’s Behested Payments ordinance, which restricts city officials from soliciting payments from contractors or other parties that do business with the city.
The legislation is a new step in the city’s efforts to find creative ways to fund drug use facilities, which remain illegal under state and federal law, without using public funds.
SF City Attorney David Chiu has said that the city shouldn’t use public funding for a safe consumption site, but that he supports a nonprofit in moving forward with the idea independently.
Two New York safe consumption sites run by the nonprofit OnPoint cost $1.4 million to operate during business hours five days a week. Running the sites 24/7 would cost $4.3 million a year, according to OnPoint executive director Sam Rivera.
The Tenderloin Center, the city’s first safe consumption site, opened under Mayor London Breed’s emergency declaration and closed in December, costing the city $22 million last year. Many addiction experts say the sites are an integral part of a cohesive overdose prevention plan.
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